FRIDAY GROUP in the VAS Studio (Studies in Watercolour)

Author: gwendoline  |  Category: Watercolour

Joyce & Thea concentrating on the model Friday Group Painters observing the model


I did this watercolour study today from life.  Simplifying the subject from the cluttered studio was necessary.   Sometimes I get sentimental and start illustrating a little too much.  I was thinking that as I get older, this little painting will remind me of the great days spent in this historic studio where the Heidelberg School artists once painted.


Author: gwendoline  |  Category: Watercolour

"To the temple" Koh Samui, Thailand - (watercolour). I really learnt alot from the watercolour above. I wanted some solid darks and rich shadows, so used a thick soupy mix of watercolour and only a little bit of water. If I wanted a soft edge, I'd wet the paper first and let it sink in till it had a sheen on the surface (not a shine). I tried not to do more than 2 washes."Koh Tao" Thailand - watercolour"To the temple" Koh Samui, Thailand - watercolour"Matthew", pencil

Colour combinations in your work…

Author: gwendoline  |  Category: Concepts, Oil Painting, Pastel Painting, Watercolour

Some artists have a natural flair to get the colour combinations looking right in their work, others need knowledge and theory to aid them in their decisions.  The insight of colour theory alone, may not be enough to make your paintings exciting.  Intuition of which colours to put together can often override all the knowledge available to an artist….”it just felt right to put that colour there”. 

Colour has been used in paintings throughout the ages in various ways, for many purposes.  The Renaissance painters built up layers of colours with glazes, giving them luminousity and depth.  The Romantic movement around the 18th century applied colour to create mood.  The Neo-Impressionists placed pure colours in dots, which then became mingled in the eyes of the viewer.  The Impressionists used colour to study light and its effects in landscape, and the Expressionists used colour for its expressional values…etc.

Once you have your composition in mind, the next thought should be, what mood you hope to create in your work.  Colour therefore, must become the next process in your thought pattern.  If you start a work without this concept, it will most likely fail.  Colours have dimension and suggestion of directionality.  Colour can be light/dark and at the same time be warm/cool.

When talking about colour harmony, we are relating to the effect of two or more colours.  Everyone will judge harmony differently.  These judgements are personal preferences, without the theory.  Every day we select colour, to dress ourselves, decorate our homes, plant flowers in our gardens.  What pleases one person, will not necessarily please another, hence we differ in our attitudes. 

 Individual subjective opinion of what appears harmonious can be referred to as ‘subjective colour’.  Subjective colour may reveal character, mode of thought or feelings.  The amount of space allocated to each colour patch would also be a preference.  Colour preferences can be imitated from looking at like-minded subjects of past painters, and  alot of students will compose in the manner of their teachers.  Other artists have seen the colours from the experience of the subject they are about to paint and another group of painters may compose colours according to the subject to be developed, referring to their colour theories.

Light tones on a black ground will advance according to their degree of brilliance.  On a white ground, the effect is reversed, light tones are held to the plane of the background and shades from grey to black are pulled forward to varying planes in the foreground.  We also must remember that warm colours will advance and cold colours will receed.  The saturation of the colour or its pureness can also have an effect  on its depth in the picture plane.  The more brilliant the colour, the more it too will advance.

Based on the 12 hue colour wheel, complementary colours are opposite each other, these are called dyads…, blue/orange, yellow/violet etc.  

  If you select three colours from the colour circle which form an equilateral triangle, those hues form a harmonious triad, ie.yellow/red/blue, orange/violet/green etc.   If you replace one of the complementary colours in a dyad eg. blue/orange by its two neighbours the result would be a triad (sometimes referred to as a split complementary)  blue/yellow orange/red orange. 

  Two pairs of complementary colours which form a square eg. blue green/red orange  and  yellow/violet, would be called a tetrad.  Tetrads can also be obtained by making a rectangle on the colour wheel eg. yellow green/ red violet and yellow orange / blue violet.

All of the above combinations lead to harmony as they contain opposites which have a warm/cold relationship.  One of these should be dominating in the painting, rather than equal semblance.

Each colour has its own trait and these traits should be considered when trying to consider a mood.  Often these traits do not need to be learned but are instinctive to each of us.    Yellow = sunshine/light,    Red = warmth,   Blue = Cold,  Green = vegetation/tranquility,   Orange = energy/radiance,   Violet  = delicate/calm

The science of colour and its effect when one colour is placed against an opposing colour or black or white  in various sizes is quite interesting and is another whole chapter. 

Dont forget to use your intuition in your work with a knowledge of the above to guide you.

A few watercolours…..

Author: gwendoline  |  Category: Watercolour

   I find watercolour a very challenging medium.    Charles Reid, a brilliant watercolourist often puts down a dob of dark and bleeds it out with water.  I love this technique.  If you are going to try watercolour, dont skimp on your paper… the best, it makes the handling of the watercolour so much easier.

A few watercolours I've been working on….

Author: gwendoline  |  Category: Watercolour

Egg & Bacon man - Koh Samui

Street Vendor - Koh Samui

Catching a ride - Koh Samui

Think about 'depth' in your painting

Author: gwendoline  |  Category: Concepts, Oil Painting, Pastel Painting, Watercolour

Everything you paint will have a certain amount of depth, whether it be a short distance (eg. between two flowers) or an infinite distance (eg.  in landscape).  To achieve depth you need to think about the air or atmosphere between objects. 

One way of observing this is to focus with your eyes on your focal point whilst seeing everything else from your peripheral vision.  By not changing your focus to see another close-by object, it will appear a little fuzzy, which is how you might paint it, creating a distance from your sharper focal point. 

Other points to remember whilst painting and trying to create air or depth, is not to paint your background too colourful, instead, neutralize the colour the further the distance.  Weaken the colour and /or lighten the tonal value as you paint objects in the background, this will make more colourful objects in the foreground come forward.  Your darkest dark and lightest light should be around your focal area.  In the shadow areas and the background, try to keep your tonal values fairly close, not too much contrast.

Light on objects makes them come forward, as does brighter colours, but, lightening a background can make it go back.   Dont focus on your background in a still life, if it’s too colourful the foreground will seem lost.  If there is a pattern in the background, only paint an idea of it, an impression, dont explain it all.  The background should be less significant than anything in the foreground.

Cheers Gwendoline

Tip: How to check your tonal values….

Author: gwendoline  |  Category: Concepts, Oil Painting, Pastel Painting, Sketching, Watercolour


To check your tonal values, take a photograph of your artwork and scan it into the computer as a black & white image.  If your tonal values are rendered correctly, the artwork should look good.   If you have not succeeded with your tonal values, it will look flat and have too many similar greys. 

I have posted two small watercolours (Thailand, Koh Samui) which have been scanned into black and white.  The tonal values are reading correctly with form.   Try yours and let me know how it goes.

Cheers Gwendoline